This April marks the 10th annual National Safe Digging Month, an initiative that urges excavators and homeowners to call 811 before beginning a digging project to avoid the injuries or fatalities that could result from striking a utility line.
According to the Common Ground Alliance, a utility line is damaged by digging once every three minutes nationwide. One-third of these incidents are caused by failure of the professional excavator or homeowner to call 811 before beginning their digging project.
A free phone call to 811 connects homeowners and contractors with their local one-call center, which notifies the appropriate utility companies of their intent to dig. Professional locators are then sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, paint or both.
Striking a single line can cause injury, significant repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages, which is why every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811. Installing a mailbox, building a deck and planting a tree or garden are all examples of digging projects that should begin only after underground utility lines are marked by a professional locator.
“Safe digging is no accident,” says Brian Langille, Assistant Gas Director, “At Clearwater Gas System, safety is our top priority, and as April marks the start of the spring digging season, we encourage all homeowners and professionals to make the call to 811 to have underground utility lines in their area marked. Please join us in an effort to keep our communities safe and connected.”
The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Utility lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking an underground utility line still exists. For more information, visit call811.com.